Organizing Center

Why join a union?


A union is a group of workers who come together to win respect on the job, better wages and benefits, more flexibility for work and family needs and a voice in improving the quality of their products and services. Workers in unions counter-balance the unchecked power of employers.

What is a union?

A union is a group of workers who form an organization to gain:
* Respect on the job
* Better wages and benefits
* More flexibility for work and family needs
* A counter-balance to the unchecked power of employers
* A voice in improving the quality of their products and services.

How do people form a union?

When workers decide they want to come together to improve their jobs, they work with an existing union to help them form their own union. Once a majority of workers show that they want a union, sometimes employers honor the workers' choice. Often, the workers must ask the government to hold an election. If the workers win their union, they negotiate a contract with the employer that spells out each party's rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

Does the law protect workers joining unions?

Under the law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against or fire workers for choosing to join a union. For example, it's illegal for employers to threaten to shut down their businesses or to fire employees or take away benefits if workers form a union.

What kinds of workers are forming unions today?

A wider range of people than ever before, including many women and immigrants, are joining unions doctors and nurses, poultry workers and graduate employees, home health care aides and wireless communications workers, auto parts workers and engineers and most other occupations are quickly becoming union.

How do unions help working families today?

Through unions, workers win better wages, benefits and a voice on the job and good union jobs mean better job security. Union workers earn 25 percent more pay than nonunion workers and are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits than those without a union. Unions lead the fight today for better lives for working people, such as through expanded family and medical leave, improved safety and health protections, and fair-trade agreements that lift the standard of living for workers all over the world.

What have unions accomplished for all workers?

Unions have made life better for all working Americans by helping to pass laws ending child labor, establishing the eight-hour day, protecting workers' safety and health and helping create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage, for example. Unions are continuing the fight today to improve life for all working families in America.